As of August 14, 2009, USCIS has received approximately 45,000 H-1B petitions subject to the bachelor’s degree cap, of which there are 65,000 visas each fiscal year. Also, USCIS announced that it has received approximately 20,000 petitions subject to the advanced degree cap exemption. Even though the limit is 20,000 for this cap, USCIS states that it will continue to accept advanced degree petitions, noting that not all petitions received are approvable.
Employers can continue to file H-1B petitions for a start date before October 1, 2010, so long as H-1B numbers are available. However, the start cannot be more than six months in advance of the date of preparation on the Form ETA 9035 Labor Condition Application (LCA), which is filed with the Department of Labor. The employer must file a certified LCA in support of the H-1B petition with USCIS. Currently, the DOL is taking 7 days to certify an LCA, unless it requests evidence verifying the employer’s information.
DOL will be fixing certain bugs and honing the iCert portal where the LCA is filed online. This office can attest to mistakes made by the DOL in processing the LCA through the new iCert system. In one case recently, DOL stated that the employer’s FEIN could not be confirmed and requested official IRS documentation confirming the FEIN. The employer has been using this FEIN for years, including under the old LCA system. Let’s hope that the update to this system will correct this error.